Rebuilding History at the National Corvette Museum

Wendell Strode, executive director of the National Corvette Museum, gives us an inside look at what’s next for the museum

The National Corvette Museum is a nonprofit organization that opened in 1994 as an educational tribute to America’s sports car. It’s located in Bowling Green, Ky., just a quarter mile from the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, where all Corvettes have been assembled since 1981. You could say the area is a Corvette lover’s paradise!

The museum, known worldwide as “the home of the Corvette,” has a long road ahead in repairing and restoring the building and the cars affected by the massive sinkhole that recently opened under the facility. Fortunately, we have a great team working with us, including our construction management firm, geotechnical engineering firm, civil engineering firm, environmental engineering firm and Western Kentucky University (WKU) Center for Cave and Karst Studies.

Moving forward, the steps to be as good as new include:

  1. Secure and stabilize the red spire. The geotechnical engineering firm will be handing this.
  2. Extract the three cars that appear to be easily accessible – the 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil, 1962 Black Corvette and 1993 40th Anniversary “Ruby Red” Corvette.
  3. Secure and stabilize the sinkhole area (various options are being discussed).
  4. Extract the remaining cars.
  5. Begin work on mitigating the entire sinkhole area.
  6. Finalize and implement the plan to mitigate the entire sinkhole area.
  7. Execute plan for repairs to the Skydome floor.

The fifth step will include exploring the caverns that can be seen in some of the videos and photos on our website. At this time, the plan is to remove all the dirt from the sinkhole to allow the WKU Cave and Karst professionals to see the floor and the caverns. One new observation is that the sinkhole is about 25-to 30-feet deep, and typically the “bottom” of the sinkhole is buried even further. Based on our estimations, the sinkhole has an actual depth of about 60 feet.

The museum plans on displaying the cars in their “as is” form as they are retrieved from the sinkhole – with a “Great 8” exhibit planned for April 18 through Aug. 3, 2014. Once they are removed from display, the cars will be transported to Michigan, where General Motors is overseeing the restoration process.

Currently, the museum has remained open with the exception of the Skydome area, where work is ongoing.  Even though this building is closed to the public, we have installed a “viewing wall” where guests can observe the work being completed from behind a plexi-glass wall.  We also have a temporary barrier wall that was installed to close off a portion of the tour.  This wall is now home to a video screen showing live web cam footage as well as images and information about the sinkhole.

Aug. 27 to Aug. 30, 2014, will be a time for celebration.  Not only is it planned for the Skydome to be reopened for tours, but we also will celebrate our 20th Anniversary with the 5th National Corvette Caravan welcoming more than 5,000 Corvette enthusiasts to the museum. Learn more about how you can join a caravan here. Additionally, we will hold the grand opening ceremonies for our Motorsports Park. The park will offer high performance driver education, corporate hospitality, teen driver education and more on the 3-mile road course and paddock with autocross and skid pad activities.

It’s an exciting time at the National Corvette Museum and you can be a part of it. Like us on Facebook for the most up-to-date information, subscribe to our weekly NCM eNews, check out our website with information on upcoming events and exhibits, and make plans to visit us in Bowling Green, Ky.!

Wendell01Wendell01 Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 8.14.45 AMWendell Strode is Executive Director of the National Corvette Museum.

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